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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Finally... the village premiere!

The screening was amazing! There is no other way to describe it. We arrived at Gathirimu Girls school at 11am. The DVD player didn't work, but we could use my laptop. The speaker jack went out, but we ended up hardwiring everything. The screen was about two times too big, but too big is better than too small. We blacked out the windows (the black plastic constantly fell, but audience members always tacked it back up). With the windows blacked out the school hall must have been AT LEAST a hundred degrees, but people came and they stayed.

Kids came from all ten schools in the district. Teachers came. Chris' mom was there. Our crew arrived along with our translators. All the kids we filmed showed up, even the ones who didn't make it into the final cut. The three lead students: Kimani, Ruth and Caroline came with their families. Ruth and Caroline arrived in style, with their hair completely redone for the screening. Chris had a convoy of friends from Nairobi arrive. Most had been in Law School with him. Jane was also there to greet the students and tell them she had once been like them, from a small school in this very area.

Kimani broke into hysterical laughter at the "Caroline is beautiful" line.
At various points in the screening Ruth and Caroline had to walk outside. I could see tears in their eyes. It is definitely hard for them to see their lives back then. But they weren't the only ones crying. Several adults told me they were moved to tears. The crew in particular commented that they never cried when I was doing the interviews, but the film made them cry - they somehow couldn't believe that!

When the screening was through, there was rousing applause. We did a Q&A and none of the questions were for me, everyone wanted to know how to apply for the fund. Chris also explained that because of the exposure from the film, the Hilde Back Education Fund now had money to sponsor more children, that drew more applause. But the best part for me was when the kids came up after the screening. They were asked to introduce themselves and all three were beaming. Ruth burst out smiling and said "I am the girl you saw in this movie and I am so happy to be here!" After the screening was through we went to Chris' Mom's house for an "after party" of grilled goat and warm soda. Very popular with the crew, less popular with my Mom and step-dad who came with me to Kenya. I learned at the party that Chris' Nairobi friends had pledged to start their own funds - they wanted the story to continue...

Director with surprise flyer (Chris wants to make this the first
screening of a whole festival)
Setting up the screen
Trying to adjust the projector
Blacking out the windows
Kids line up to enter
Chris arrives!
Jane with former HBEF beneficiaries
The screening
Kimani, Ruth and Caroline just after the screening
Director Jennifer Arnold, with Kimani, Ruth, Caroline and HBEF
coordinator Baba Bernard (see the T-shirts my mom brought the kids)


  1. so awesome! thanks for sharing the experience and posting all the pictures.

  2. I just saw the film last night in Portland, OR. It was terrific. Warm and very powerful. Reflecting on it today, did the people in the village know anything about the Holocaust when you first planned the film? Later? I'd be curious to hear more about that.

    Thanks so much and best wishes with lots of screenings.

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